Life is often daunting. Getting older, facing serious health issues, financial challenges, and relationship struggles are just a few of the things that can create disappointment and fear for us. If these experiences go on long enough, we can begin to lose hope that things will get better and that we will be truly happy.
Several people I deeply admire have spoken in recent weeks of the importance of being a source of living hope in our own lives and, as a result, shining the light of hope in the lives of others. Their comments have caused me to spend time sitting with and focusing on this experience, this emotion, we call hope.
When I was growing up (next Monday will be my 71st birthday), I was taught to put my hope in God. I was taught that God is love. I was also taught that God is this distant being who demands that I make up for having been “born in sin” and earn his approval and love. I think I was only in third grade when I began to realize that I could never be good enough to accomplish that. Underlying that realization was the feeling that putting my hope in a God that difficult to please might not be hope at all.
In the many decades since that time, as I have been on this spiritual journey of learning to be human, I have come to understand that God indeed is love and that the truth is this: I exist and inhabit this human form because a spark of the Divine is the very essence of my being. The Divine within me is the reason I am.
Therefore, the hope that I seek dwells in the very essence of my own being. I need not look outside myself to others even though I am often inspired by others to fan the flame of that divine spark and to live a life of hope. Please do not misunderstand what I just said. We do need one another; we need Divinely-inspired spiritual teachers and guides to instruct us in the use of tools that lead us into communion with the Divine Within. We also must understand that each of us is responsible for our personal journey. Practicing the tools given by our teachers, we find the love, peace, joy, and hope that we seek.